SOUTH BEACH — As the four year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, a local civic group unveiled a new garden dedicated to the Staten Islanders who died during the storm, which they hope will become a spot for family members to visit and remember their loved ones.
"It won't bring any closure to the families but it's something here for them to see," said Joseph McAllister, president of the South Beach Civic Association. "It something for them to see Staten Island does care about them, they're not forgotton."
Flood waters from Hurricane Sandy tore through the beachfront communities around Staten Island four years ago. The storm destroyed homes, businesses and parks and left 24 people dead — the highest number in the city.
On Friday, the South Beach Civic Association held a dedication ceremony for their "Sandy Memorial Garden," in the Sand Lane parking lot of the Franklin. D Roosevelt Boardwalk, with elected officials and a performance by the Staten Island Pipes and Drums.
The group worked for more than a year to get the garden in place after securing a $6,000 grant from the city and hope to build upon it in the coming years. The next step is to work on finding a way to list the names of the 24 people who died during the storm, McAllister said.
"We want to build it, flourish in the future, so they can come and see how beautiful and they can think about somebody cares about them," he said.
The project had several set backs along the way, including having trouble affording a stone for the center, but after the J.L. Wegenaar Co. donated one for free, they were able to get it in place for the four year anniversary.
At the ceremony, state Sen. Diane Savino said the garden doesn't just memorialize the people killed by the storm, but also the borough as a whole who banded together to help recover from it.
"This beautiful monument is a recognition of the 24 people who lost their lives, but it's more than that," she said. "It's really a monument of the spirit of generosity of the people of Staten Island."